Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Those two little words

The greatest lesson I learned in the PR business was about 15 years ago.

I busted my hump for a client, stayed up nights fretting over a launch event, did the “pride swallowing siege” thing with media, and became a living nightmare around friends and family as I prepped for this project.

Naturally (ahem), the launch was beyond brilliant: coverage galore, flawlessly executed, on time, on budget .. yadda, yadda, yadda ...

I was expecting just one thing from the client: a thank you, some recognition, a verbal token of appreciation.

I got bupkis.

The next day I hightailed it into my boss’ office where I unleashed a 10-minute soliloquy of “Don’t they know how hard I’ve worked on this?” and “Didn’t the client see the effort?” and, of course, “Why was I not thanked for my efforts?” and on and on I ranted.

She looked at me and didn’t bat an eye and said, “The client pays us and keeps us on retainer month after month. That’s how they thank you for the work you do.”

Blimey! I always hated it when she was right.

The client didn’t need to thank me. As I quickly learned, they did so by their commitment to the agency and entrusting us with their brand. And, in turn, it was my job to continuously deliver results.

That was 15 years ago, and to this very day I never expect to be thanked for the work we do. Don’t get me wrong, I still love to hear those two little words of praise. When it does come our way, it’s a great a bonus of recognition and makes us all feel warm and fuzzy inside. But today I remind my staff not to get all hot and bothered if a client doesn’t express thanks after every initiative. When it happens, relish it, bask in it, but move on to the next thing ... ‘cuz our clients have moved on, too.

The late great Bette Davis once said that if studio heads would have thanked her just once for a performance, she would have worked harder and may have even took less money – that’s how much she craved that verbal recognition.

I agree ... well, maybe not on the less money part.

1 comment:

Deborah said...

You're right that it's not realistic to hear the word "thanks" from clients for every job but I don't think it's out of line to expect it for an exceptionally well done job. I thank the clerk at the drugstore for ringing through my order, for heaven's sake.

Saying "thank you" is part of good business.